Tabula Rasa is a Latin phrase that means "blank slate." This phrase is at the heart of a lot of things that preschool programs believe in, and repeated studies of young children in development prove this concept to be true. Everyone is born "empty" of knowledge and experience. Preschool teachers provide a lot of knowledge and experience to hungry little minds, filling up all those "blank slates" with things that children will need to know and know how to do as they grow. It is especially vital to educating children and it means everything to preschools and daycares. Here is why.
Young Minds Are Like Sponges
The first five years of development are the most critical of anyone's life. This is the time when children are growing rapidly, and they absorb everything they see and hear for the rest of their lives. It is critical that children have someone they trust and respond well to who can teach them everything from tying their shoes to learning their ABC's. It is a proven fact that children in the first five years of life will absorb more knowledge now than they ever will going forward. At ages three to five, children have already mastered their native language, but they can easily master one to two more if they are exposed to them. They can pick up on social cues, "reading a room," turn-taking in conversations, mastering mathematics, learning an instrument, and even learning some intermediate principles of art. It is because their minds are fresh, energetic, and eager to learn that they can absorb so much knowledge.
Teachers Develop Curricula Around the Children and Teachable Moments
Knowing that young minds are like sponges and that each pupil will absorb a lot, teachers of preschool children prepare curricula that helps children learn more and more, and build on what they learn. There should also be extra information for "teachable moments." These moments are what preschool teachers quickly recognize and address as they happen.
Studying frogs, for example, leads to many questions by the curious little students. Rather than force the children to stick to the material that the teacher has prepared and ignore the questions, the teacher answers these questions. If the teacher him/herself does not know, he/she shows the children how to find the answers they want. This fosters a child's sense of independence and ability to look for answers on his/her own.